Sports, Integrity, Life

Sports teaches you character, it teaches you to play by the rules, it teaches you to know what it feels like to win and lose —it teaches you about life. -Billie Jean King

Billie Jean King has it right regarding sports teaching about character and life. The player has the opportunity to face the anxiety (aka fear) and respond with integrity (aka love). Doesn’t mean they will but it also doesn’t mean they won’t learn to respond with integrity eventually even if a hard fall is required first. People are always learning even if they don’t mean to. Life is one big experiment that way.

Sports aren’t the only places to learn to face the fear and respond with integrity, of course. Lessons come for everyone through one life arena or another: family, school, health, relationships. We can choose to be authentic in our daily interactions and activities. There are opportunities on a daily basis for each of us to choose integrity and good reasons for doing so even if it means “losing” in the interim. The biggest reasons for doing so are to know your true self, to stretch your own personal limits, and to live the whole-hearted beauty of an authentic life.

Life Improved: Health

Can you appreciate the idea of wellness as a natural state of being? Remind yourself throughout the day to relax, allow, and enjoy.

What can you appreciate about your body? Even as you are out and about working or having fun, there is so much your body is taking care of without you needing to direct it. Your heart beats, you breathe, your muscles work, your feet take you where you want to go. Your eyes see, your ears hear, and on and on. Your body is amazing!

Your needs are unique. Maybe what is promoted to the general public will feel great for your body, maybe it won’t. That doesn’t mean anything is wrong or amiss with your body. It just means that now is the time to learn what works best for you. Some factors to consider – sleep, diet, exercise, stress, fun. Most importantly, when you identify something you can do that helps you feel good, stick with it! Integrate it into your daily self-care ritual. Make it a habit that runs on autopilot for you.

Often unhappiness about body appearance comes about after comparing ourselves to others. So don’t play that game. To do so is to take the first step toward the portal for an ego trip that turns anxious mind loose. Instead of starting off down that dark rabbit hole, remember, you are unique, incomparable even.

Whatever you like about yourself, appreciate that specifically and often. The most important thing is that you feel good. Take it easy on yourself. Pay attention to your emotions and do something about it when you notice you aren’t feeling good — change your focus! Be open and expansive about allowing yourself to feel good.

You Are Where You Are

Your old story may not be helping you. What do you repeat in your head about yourself and to others? Are you thinking and talking about what you like about yourself? Are you retelling stories about your struggles? If so, now is the time for a new, more positive story.

It’s not easy to let go of how you’ve been thinking but if you want different results, it’s worth the effort. You are where you are, but at anytime you can start again. It doesn’t matter what happened before. What matters is what happens next, and your results going forward are directly related to feeling good now.

The easiest way to improve your body is to accept where you are with an understanding that all can be better. Stop beating up on yourself. Be hopeful instead. It doesn’t have to be a struggle. You can move forward with inspired steps pulling you through instead of by pushing yourself forward with the force of will alone. You can feel good about what you are doing, and the improvements you are making. Try it. The difference will astound you!

Create habits of thinking where you catch yourself feeling unhappy then say to yourself, “Things are as they are and feeling down doesn’t help me.” Then proceed to talk yourself up, or visualize yourself up to a happier feeling, or imagine how you want to feel. Most importantly, know that things are improving. Feel enthusiasm regarding the good feelings coming to you.

Know that more health and wellness is coming to you when you can feel good even if only for a little bit at first. Each time you practice you will become better and better at feeling good and recognizing inspiration to take the next step towards what you want.

Die Only Once

Let go of anxiety and worry. It’s not motivational. Instead, it tends to stop any momentum you do have. Worry, anxiety, and fear don’t help. There are far better ways to spend your time and energy.

Often changing your outlook makes all the difference. Much more is good than is not good. Keep your mind on the good and what you are creating going forward. Do your best to change your thinking so that you can feel good to great most of the time.

Most of us have been taught to ignore our emotions, or to control our emotions, or that emotions are uncontrollable. Unlearn those ideas! Tuning into how you feel is crucial. Use your emotions to adjust your focus to feel better. Emotions point us to what we are thinking and where we are focusing. That’s it! Don’t give emotions much more meaning that that. They simply let us know to change focus when feeling bad, or to focus on more of the same even figuring out how to bump it up a notch when feeling good. There is always another level.

Feeling better is always the goal. What you are thinking influences how you feel. What you focus on and how you think about it directly affects how you feel. So periodically throughout the day, take note of how you feel. Doing so is like taking a measurement that helps you adjust your focus and your thinking so that you feel good…and feeling good is of utmost importance.

Simple Tools and Tactics

  • A happiness collection can be helpful. Make your own scrapbook of happy things which can be an actual book or a web-based collection, such using Pinterest or Evernote. Gather your favorite music, poems, song lyrics, pictures, and videos. Write out or speak reminders of your happiest memories and visualizations of good things to come. If you notice you are feeling down, go to your happiness collection and pump yourself up a notch or two. It can be a great distraction that can help stop negative momentum and maybe even turn it around.
  • Realize that feeling overwhelmed is often due to thinking too far ahead or thinking about things you can’t do too much about right now for whatever reason. The cure for overwhelm is to reign in your focus. Switch to a general knowing that it will all work out. Allow yourself to feel comfortable and confident about where you are now in the process. Recognize your achieved progress as persistent small steps in the right direction at the right time.
  • Feel the future, it’s so easy! Imagine the flow. Feel the momentum and the perfect timing. How do you want to feel in 10 years? How about next year? How about tomorrow? How about now?
  • Make a want list. There are many beautiful things all around you. Lovely things to want, lovely people to meet. Did you know that it is good to want? Life would quickly become boring if you had everything you wanted all at once. Keep making your want list, it pulls life through. You still have stuff you want, and that’s good, great even! What we want comes to us in stages throughout life. So make your list. Keep track of all the things you want to experience. While you are at it, list how you want to feel too. All that you want is on the way to you as long as you can feel good about what you want. Careful that you aren’t aching for what you want. The challenge is to enjoy wanting. Make the want list game a daily practice and you will find yourself feeling good more often and life improving. Be patient and let all that you want come to you and have fun choosing along the way. Care enough about yourself to control your focus. Imagine how you will feel when you have what you want and choose to feel that now. Get jazzed about all the experiences you want to have and what you want to create and go with that feeling as long as you can for a few minutes each day.

Improved health begins with knowing it is possible and believing you can tap into that kind of abundance. Then move to some visualization. See yourself in those shoes and feel it in your body as if you were already there. Daydream just for fun. It’s so fun to play with ideas of what you can choose, what you will create going forward. Enjoy dreams of all that you want. Savor how it feels to play with those ideas. It’s good work for improving health! Play with these ideas daily to establish good momentum for improving health and wellness.

Pay attention to what you’re focusing on. This one thing can do wonders to increase your satisfaction in life almost immediately.

First understand that what you focus on affects how you feel.

If what you’re thinking about makes you feel bad, it affects your energy level in a bad way. It lowers your vibe. If you’re thinking about something that makes you feel bad, you will quickly start to feel stressed or tired or just generally have a bad attitude.

On the other hand, if what you’re thinking about makes you feel good, it affects your energy level in a good way. It raises your vibe! It doesn’t matter if what you’re thinking about it is true or not. What matters is if it helps you feel good.

So, for example, use this to enhance your career. If thinking about the weekend makes you feel good, then spend a few seconds periodically daydreaming about your free time. But if thinking about the weekend makes you feel bad because you want it to be the weekend now, or it makes you yearn for the weekend, then avoid thoughts about the weekend. Choose to focus on something that makes you feel good instead.

Here is another example. On an old episode of Dancing with the Stars, Olympian Evan Lysacek was being coached by his dancing pro Anna Trebunskaya. Evan was a top notch technician but was not good at showing emotion in his dancing. Anna asked him, “What makes you happy?” Evan mumbled something about cars then said as his face lit up, “my baby nephew!”

He then proceeded to show his coach cute little videos of his nephew on his phone. He was smiling and laughing the whole time. Anna capitalized on that reaction and brought it to his attention. Long story short, he danced like a whole new man in that week’s competition. Even more importantly, he now knows a trick (shall we say, a Jedi mind trick?) for something to focus on when he notices he is not feeling as good as he could.

You can do the same to enhance your life. Gather some “go to” thoughts you can use to switch your thinking when you notice you’re dragging. Keep a list of thoughts you can try to change your focus when necessary. Maybe it’s a favorite memory, a song you love, or silently reciting a list of who loves you. There is always something you can focus on for a few seconds to raise yourself to a more positive vibe. Find it and focus there to notice a new perspective on life nearly immediately.

It all begins with what you think of yourself because that affects how you feel about yourself and what will come to you as a result.

Positive transformations can take place within your body. There are solutions around for you. If you can tap into a new positive expectation, you will be brought to ideas that you had not noticed before or you may try something again with a whole new attitude that makes all the difference. Or, on an even bigger scale, you may find a new understanding as to why being slowed down with a difficulty with your body provides you with an experience that helps you develop a needed skill or have a required experience in your life.

When you know what improvement you want in your body, you have a few choices. You can feel angry, depressed, or generally awful about yourself…or you can treat yourself as a child of the universe who is learning and you can cut yourself a break.

All that happened before is part of the process that brings you to now and that is all, just a step along the way. If you notice that you often look back and kick your own butt about stuff, try letting it go instead. You can be sure you did the best you could with the information you had at the time. So be kind to yourself. You are always automatically worthy of love. There is no shame. There is nothing to feel guilty about.

Move forward with inspiration knowing that you have always made the best move you were capable of at the time and you will continue to do the same. Now is the time to nurture yourself by controlling your focus. What matters is what happens next, and your results going forward are directly related to feeling good now.

Imagine how you will feel when you have what you want and choose to feel that way now. Get jazzed about all the experiences you want to have and what you want to create and go with that feeling as long as you can for a few minutes every single day. Daydream about the changes you wanted already being here. Do it with an attitude of fun. It’s so fun to play with ideas of what you can choose and what the transformation will mean for your life.

Appreciate vitality when you see it. Use beauty you see around you as a reason to feel good. Know that more vitality is coming to you when you can feel good if only for a little bit at first. Each time you practice you will become better and better at feeling good and appreciating your body.

The importance of being okay with slow results can’t be over-emphasized. If you allow yourself to reinforce feelings of frustration or anger at slow results you defeat your own purpose. Change can come and it may be at a snail’s pace but if you focus on the slow pace you get more of a slow-down. Instead, focus on the momentum, ideas you can use are coming faster and faster, it is getting easier and easier to maintain the good habits you intended. There is momentum and you are heading in a direction that will please you if you can remember to enjoy life from where you are right now. This moment will never come again.

“Is everything as urgent as your stress would imply?” –Carrie Latet

“What different lives we should lead if we take things by the minute!” –Gilbert-Ann Taylor

“In times of great stress or adversity, it’s always best to keep busy, to plow your anger and your energy into something positive.” –Lee Iacocca

“Hope is as cheap as despair.” –Proverb

“In times of stress, be bold and valiant.” –Horace

“They who live in worry invite death to hurry.” –Anonymous

“Men for the sake of getting a living forget to live.” –Margaret Fuller

“Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.” –Chinese Proverb

Stress is a normal part of life. Still, like anything else, too much can be harmful to not only our mental faculties but also our physical health. It is important that we reduce and control the amount of stress in our lives.

The basic foundation of minimizing the harmful effects of stress is to eat good feeling food, move and stretch the body regularly, and adhere to a good sleep routine that leaves you well-rested. You must figure out how best to fit your unique needs in these areas. When you do, this important foundation will keep your body more robust and healthy despite stress.

Learning to let your mind free of stresses and worries is also an important stress buster. Meditation and quiet contemplation are two methods of reducing stress. If you’re not into meditation, spend a half hour or so each night reading a good book in a comfortable chair or take up an enjoyable hobby. Anything that distracts you from the concerns of the day and allows you a chance to decompress can be a worthwhile activity.

Go for a walk in the park or get a pet. Get a dog and take the dog for a walk in the park. A walk outdoors in the fresh air can do wonders for reducing stress, as can a companion animal. It likely wouldn’t hurt to combine the two if you’re so inclined.

Play games. Card games. Board games. Video games. Whatever floats your boat. You could also try puzzles. Putting a jigsaw puzzle together may be a good way to spend your time. It’s hard to worry about work when you’re trying to find a matching piece! Or, do a crossword puzzle, word find, or sudoku.

If you’re artistic, you could paint, draw, or even just doodle. You could try needle crafts, sand art, sculpture, wood carving, sewing or whatever suits your interests.

Take time to listen to music or watch television. Take an evening and go out for dinner and a movie. See a play. Go to a sporting event.

The important thing is to take some time out for yourself. Find something that works for you and remember to take time to do it. Relaxing and recharging are important!

Practice Being Organized

We all face some amount of stress in our lives. Some stress is caused by situations beyond our control, making it all the more important to do what we can to reduce stress in the circumstances we do control.

One thing within our control is our level of organization.

While on the face of it, organization may seem to have little to do with stress levels, a lack of organization will prove otherwise in a stressful situation.

If you’re under pressure to find an item in a stressful situation, imagine how much more stressed you will become when you cannot locate it.

As you shuffle through papers, folders and drawers, your frantic searching may cause further disorganization, setting the stage for a later repeat of the situation. If instead, you can quickly locate what you need when you need it, your stress levels will be lower than they might otherwise be.

Naturally, the first step is to do a thorough cleaning, eliminating clutter and organizing everything that is needed.

  • Make sure you organize everything in a manner that makes sense for you, using a system you will remember and stick with.
  • Once you get organized, stay organized.
  • Each day, set aside a few minutes to get your work area back in order.

Ideally and when practical, follow a pattern where you handle each item only once. For example, when you get a new document or piece of mail, read it and then act on it, file it, or recycle it. Eliminate the “I’ll do it later” items as much as possible. Too often, later never comes because of other more pressing needs. Additionally, you won’t suffer the stress of seeing a growing stack of “I’ll do it later” items sitting on your desk. You can better focus on the job at hand rather than being frustrated by the amount of work left to do.

Being better organized will not eliminate stress, but it can help keep it at reduced levels. Plus, it makes for a better and easier home and workplace, so there is no downside. Get organized and reap the benefits of increasing your productivity and reducing your stress level.

Remember to Breathe

Feeling a little stress is a normal part of the working day but when stress gets to be too much it can affect your judgment causing you to make rash decisions. Or, it can affect you physically causing tension in your muscles, increased heart rate, or aches and pains.

The key is to keep stress at a manageable level. One way to do this is with a simple breathing exercise.

  • Sit still in a relaxed position with your back straight.
  • Clear your mind as much as possible.
  • Breathe in slowly, for a deep breath.
  • Hold, but only as long as is comfortable.
  • Breathe out slowly.
  • Hold.
  • Breathe in.
  • Hold.
  • Breathe out.
  • Hold.

Repeat often. Take a few seconds here and there. Use a simple breathing exercise on a regular basis to help lower your stress level.

Goal Setting Process

Those who write their goals down are more likely to reach them. For me, writing down the main ones in a few categories on an annual basis is a good way to go. I use the time around my birthday each year to inventory goals achieved and set goals for the next year. I pick the most important ones to me and break them down into smaller steps to be accomplished each month or quarter along the way to my next birthday. I learned this technique by reading Maximum Achievement: Strategies and Skills That Will Unlock Your Hidden Powers to Succeed by Brian Tracy.

Goal setting is a very personal thing, though. We all have to take the time to learn what works best for us and stick to that. If a technique sounds good to you, try it for a month or so. Check your motivation and results at the end of the month to determine if that system is a keeper for you. Finding what works best is simply a trial and error exercise. Most importantly, keep trying.

When there is a goal you do not reach in by the deadline, it is time to reassess whether it’s still relevant to keep it on the list for the next year. If it is, no harm done, you just estimated wrong about when you could get it accomplished. So put it on the list again and spend time feeling what it will be like to reach that goal. Then try again. If it is no longer relevant to you, then let it go without worrying about it any further. Turns out it was just not important enough in the grander scheme of things.

Living in the moment and being fully present is also a critical idea to remember when goal setting. It can be easy to be distracted with anticipating a future goal or accomplishment that you must achieve before you can move on or allow happiness in your life. But, there is no need to be unhappy seeking a time in the future when all is will be accomplished. Even though it is important to outline goals and work towards accomplishments, it is also imperative to learn to enjoy the process.